What is Heroes & Other Worlds?

Heroes & Other Worlds is a game of adventure inspired by Metagaming's classic Melee/Wizard/TFT system combined with inspiration from the Moldvay edited basic game. The rules are easy to learn and use standard six sided dice. The system is simple, sensible and flexible in the spirit of classic role playing games from the early 80's. Become a Hero, Other Worlds await!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Cauldron, Issue #0

As promised, I am happy to say you can now download the #0 issue of Cauldron for free!

Inside the #0 issue you will find the following articles
  • Introduction: Coming to a Boil
  • FEATURE: Heroes & Other Worlds Basic Rules
  • Adventurers Assemble! Sample Characters
  • Filthy Lucre: Blood Harvest solo adventure
  • Beliefs & Believers: Veneration of the Ancients
  • Faculties & Staff: Grimoire of Shadows
  • Tooth & Claw: Frost Walker
  • Adventure: Rise of the Wickerman
  • Clone Conversion: Retro-Clone to Heroes & Other Worlds
  • Portals to Other Worlds: List of Links
    I converted my Pocket Full of Peril #10 adventure into a full Heroes & Other Worlds adventure! It features the cartographic wizardry of A.J. Stone of Stonewerks blog fame!

    Part of my gamer OCD issues is the need to have printed copies. So I "arted up" the free download and you can buy it on Lulu.com.  It is at a special into price of $6.99 as future issues will be $10.  If you want or need an "arted up" issue that sits and fits right along with the HOW rules book, it is available to you!

    2012 was a great year for me personally as I completed a dream of mine to publish the fantasy game I always wished I had found.  I am very grateful for the kind words and support from so many people!

    Heroes & Other Worlds is off to a great start and I have many plans for 2013! I hope you will come along for the adventure!

    I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fire burn and Cauldron bubble

I am pretty close to having the #0 issue of Cauldron finished.  As promised it will be available as a free PDF download.  This will be an art free version of the zero issue.  For product line completeness and symmetry a for sale 6x9 printed digest version will be made available on Lulu. This will have art but will be offered at a lower price than the future regular issues.Currently here is the list of articles contained within:
  • Introduction: Coming to a Boil
  • FEATURE: Heroes & Other Worlds Basic Rules
  • Adventurers Assemble! Sample Characters
  • Filthy Lucre: Blood Harvest
  • Beliefs & Believers: Veneration of the Ancients
  • Faculties & Staff: Grimoire of Shadows
  • Tooth & Claw: Frost Walkers
  • Adventure: Rise of the Wickerman
  • Clone Conversion: Retro-Clone to Heroes & Other Worlds
The HOW Basic Rules will serve as a useable intro and combined with the sample characters should be enough to play the enclosed adventures in this issue of Cauldron.

I expect to have it ready for download on New Year's eve and will post a link when it is done.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hear ye, hear ye!

Our house guest for the holidays has flown home today and my duties as host are now complete.  Now back to our regularly scheduled game design!

First I am excited to let you know Brett Slocum just released his Tekumel TFT beta v.3 conversion document!
Tekumel is a fantastic and very orginal fantasy setting! Being designed for TFT it is easily compatible with Heroes & Other Worlds!  Want an original setting to explore? More spells? More creatures? More magical items? Just click over to Brett's site and download the document now!  It is outstanding and will spur all sorts of ideas for your own game!

Second , are you looking to get your own copy of Heroes & Other Worlds?  Lulu.com has a 25% off promo code now through 1/2/13! Use the promo code AMPLIUS at checkout!

Third, Cauldron issue #0 will come out in the next few days!

Fourth, I will be converting Robert S. Conley's BLACKMARSH setting into Heroes & Other Worlds format and releasing it as an "Other World." Expect that in January.

Fifth, I will then be working to convert Lee Reynoldson's  Redwald setting into Heroes & Other Worlds format!

So anyone concerned about, or wanting, a setting for Heroes & Other Worlds will have an embarrassment of riches starting with Tekumel right now!

What's next after that? I have a major spell book in the offing, quarterly issues of the Cauldron and its a coin flip between Grim Venture or Blades & Back Magic! 

To all who have taken time and energy to play, review, support and purchase Heroes & Other Worlds I am very thankful.  I know the O in OSR is too often really a d20 in disguise, so I am thankful that a roguish bunch of fellow gamers is willing to take a chance on something far from the maddening crowd.

I look forward to sharing a fun 2013 and beyond with you! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

25% OFF

Lulu is running a special, 25% any order through january 2nd! Now you can get HOW at a crazy discount!

Use promo code AMPLIUS at check.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Super Heroic

I have made mention a few time in previous posts why HOW, unlike TFT, does not allow for Attributes to increase with experience.  I made mention that I disliked the traditional TFT experience system because it created super-heroic characters that, even for a fantasy game, became absurd.  Apparently I was not alone in these thoughts.

This always rankled me as well. Part of this no doubt stems from the philosophy of "realism" implied and underlying the system as a whole. TFT used a sensible and logical system to provide the mechanical basis for playing an adventure game. My own preference for heroic, over super heroic, game play is a clear design element of Heroes & Other Worlds, and is based on what I saw in the foundations of the original system. 

Somewhere, so it seems to me, the ability to increase skills instead of attributes became an unavailable option in TFT.  As both Melee & Wizard allowed only attribute increases in their rules, and as they served as the foundation stones for the Fantasy Trip, it seems logical that only attribute increases with experience would carry through. I disagreed with this and the result is the experience system in Heroes & Other Worlds.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Review

Anthony, of Battleaxes & Beasties blog fame, has just posted his review of Heroes & Other Worlds.  I appreciate his thoughts and opinions on the game and beyond the review, highly recommend you had his blog to your own daily stops.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Venture Forth

Geordie has created a great mini adventure for HOW.  If you are looking for a quick little adventure this is a good one! In fact I will be converting a lot of my Pocket Full of Peril adventures into full HOW format adventures.  Perfect for a single game session or two if you have methodical players.

As I have gotten older, I find I do not have the endless weekends of gaming that I did pre-college.  In fact now I prefer my adventures to be of the one evening completion variety.  That does not mean there isn't a larger campaign, it simply means you know when you show up and give me 4 to 6 hours of your time, you are going home with an comeplted adventure.  Of course if your character dies, you may be out quicker. :)

Speaking of campaigns, Lee the creator of Redwald has sent me a large amount of material to convert into HOW format.  Once the #0 issue of The Cauldron is done, I will start cracking on the conversion.  I think Redwald is a fantastic setting and for someone looking for a "setting book" to use for HOW, Redwald will provide a tremendously unique and detailed world book..assuming I don't screw it up in converting of course. :)

Image by BAILIN

Friday, December 14, 2012

Other World: Redwald

Redwald is an Anglo-Saxon era RPG in development by Lee Reynoldson. It is delightfully labeled as: A Role-Playing game of Outlaw Scum In an Anglo-Saxon World. Excited? Hell yes you are,and I was too!

Check out his Redwald blog and become inspired by the detail and outstanding writing giving life to his vision of a Dark Ages RPG.

Currently he is writing it for Sword & Wizardry White Box, and if you email him, he might share the work in progress PDF's with you.

I am a big fan of the classic epics/sagas like Beowulf and the recent works of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon series of books as well as his take on a Dark Ages/historic King Arthur series The Warlord Chronicles.  Haven't read them? Then you are in for a real treat! Better yet? Redwald nails the genre magnificently and adds nice detailed doses of the fantastic to keep things interesting.

100% honesty here, I absolutely love the Redwald setting and want to adapt to Heroes & Other Worlds as a setting book.  The tactical nature of HOW lends itself easily to Lee's setting and the use of war-bands and other setting specifics could be easily and quickly handled by the HOW system.  Lee has purchased a copy of HOW so we will see if the system appeals to him.  On my own, I am converting Redwald material to HOW format for personal use, but who knows.  Perhaps someday Redwald will become an Other World to explore.

In the same Dark ages sort of setting Geordie over at Bite the Bulette has the starting of a new adventure/dungeon which could be a great kick off for your own adventure. Checkout Geordie's work and see how this idea comes to life. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fresh grist for the mill

Branduan takes on Brandon in his review of Heroes & Other Worlds.  It is a very detailed look at the game and I appreciate the time and trouble that went into this review.  If you are curious about the game or just want a fresh opinion, click over to What Am I Playing At? and read!

Heroes and Other Worlds is, by today's standards a simple and rules light RPG that comes all-in-one in a handy booklet with a sample adventure and a sample dungeon included. I would heartily recommend it for someone wanting to replace their worn copies of Melee/Wizard/TFT or for someone wanting a simple game to try out on their kids that won't cost an arm and a leg yet could be played for years if they get to liking it. Likewise, though it may have some odd things for the current gamer to get used to, it's a good system in a small package for a reasonable price

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Something wicked this way comes

Well okay, so it is not really wicked, but it is coming.

For my next trick, I am working on the #0 issue of the Cauldron.  Any time I spend blog posting is time not spent writing The Cauldron, so I hope you will understand if I am using my limited word-smithing time and abilities on The Cauldron #0.

The Cauldron will come out in late December as a free download, and future issues will be pay to play. Don't worry I will still be checking the blog daily, looking forward to new reviews and your adventure ideas, and in general being available even if the blog posting is light over the next couple weeks.

I hope you enjoy Heroes & Other Worlds, I look forward to seeing what you make of it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Review part #2

Geordie at Bite the Bulette blog has just posted the 2nd part of his review for Heroes & Other Worlds.

I'd hazard to say it has met with his approval, which means a lot as Geordie followed this little project from its conception as Roguish.

It's a fair and honest review like Robert Saint John's, and is all a person can or should hope for.  I very much appreciate Geordie taking time to do the review.

I look forward to Robert Saint John's 2nd half review and to those also saying they will review it, I can only again say thank you very much for your time and efforts to do so, I look forward to your thoughts.

Most importantly though I hope you actually enjoy playing it!

Want to give it a try?
Get 20% off by using promo code DECBOOKS12 on Lulu.com!

New review

Geordie Racer has just posted his first (of two parts) review of Heroes & Other Worlds.  You can link over to his blog Bite the Bulette to see what he thinks! Geordie's look at HOW is from the point of view of someone with no previous knowledge of the TFT system.  If that's you, or if you are interested in seeing the system with fresh eyes, this is a good read.  I look forward to reading Part 2 of both Robert Saint John's review and Geordie's review soon!

I'd also like to point you to the Dark City Games forums as Bret and "ewookie" have a nice thread going looking at Heroes & Other Worlds. For a DCG player, or just someone who'd like more information, this is another good resource.  Plus, if you own HOW and want some adventures to play right now? DCG is the place to get'em!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Get your Filthy Lucre

Now available for download is Filthy Lucre#0: Blood Harvest.

Click the link or just go to the downloads link to the right to get it or a number of other downloads like Hero sheets.

As far as creative stuff for HOW, that's it from me until The Cauldron issue #0 later this month.

I am looking forward to answering any question you have or hearing your thoughts and reviews after taking the system for a spin.  If I spy any coupons for lulu.com I will post them here ASAP! Thanks again for your support, for spreading the word about Heroes & Other Worlds and most of all I  hope you enjoy the game!

Filthy Lucre UPDATE

One of the aspects of adventure gaming that seems to get little action is the pursuit of filthy lucre through bounty hunting.

As part of each issue of The Cauldron, I intend to include a Filthy Lucre scenario. This will include a quick write up/background, possible problems finding or getting to the battle scene, the battle itself, and potential difficulties after it. For a system inspired by Melee/Wizard, it's a natural fit.

The brief example of combat in HOW is based on such a scenario and I may use this idea as the basis for a downloadable game play sample for HOW.

The image is from the Black Library's book Brunner the Bounty Hunter. Based in the Warhammer world, it's a great read and should inspire you if you are interested in this kind of scenario.

UPDATE: I finished writing the Filthy Lucre Scenario # 0 and will post it later tonight.  I am going to include a map and counters in the PDF as well.  Should be posted in a couple hours, I will post again when it's available.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Hero Sheet

One of the many things I like about HOW is the simple index card character sheets you can use to play it.  It is is simple, easily understood, and certainly unimposing to new players. (Side note, my wife snapped a pic comparing the HOW book and dice required to play next to another system's books and dice required to play.  Talk about David and Goliath!)

While I use the bookmark sheets successfully in play-testing HOW, (and I still love that format dearly) I decided to put my horde of index cards to work as well!

Find this new index card size Hero sheet by clicking the HOW downloads link to the right.  Four are laid up on to one 8.5x11 page so it is pretty easy to get an adventuring party put together quickly and efficiently.  I affix mine, using a bit of glue stick, to the back (blank side) of an index card.  This leaves the lined or graph side open for further notes and use by Players.  If you use white index cards and at least one other colored index card, you could designate one color for Adventurers and one color for Wizards! Simple, sensible and good gaming!

Friday, November 30, 2012

More Q+A: XP+EN

Okay no complaints anyone when this shows up in The Cauldron!

The question was raised as to why HOW (unlike TFT) does not have rules for raising Attributes with XP.  Instead XP can only be used to purchase higher levels of skills/spells.

Here is the official, and well known,  historical primary rule for games of this type:

If you do not like a rule, feel free to change it! 

I sincerely mean that! There are no game police so tweak rules to fit the way you want to play!

Now that being said, here is why I do not, and will not, create an official option in HOW to increase Attributes through XP: It breaks the spirit of the game and IMHO ruins it.  Those familiar with the Melee/Wizard/TFT system will also be familiar with Conan the Librarian wizard.  Attributes could be raised to 20+ and as ST powered Wizards spell casting, they would have a high IQ and a Conan like ST in order to cast spells.  It broke the game for me mechanically and conceptually. I was determined not to repeat what I saw as a design mistake. I think as conceived originally, Melee/Wizard was a terrific pair of fantasy boardgames. It was their conversion from boardgame to RPG (with TFT) that the game system (IMHO) broke down.

Remedy part 1: Adding the EN Attribute, this effectively got rid of the Conan the Librarian Wizard while adding a heroic sense of taking damage and being able to bounce back the next day.

Remedy part 2: Allow Players to increase their skills/spells but not their attributes.  This avoids the I am good at everything DX/IQ munchkin gaming that I saw(and hated) abused in games of TFT.  Instead Players now focus on the character and how to grow their abilities (skills/spells) with XP.  Just Attribute dumping/increasing does not focus a Player on developing their Hero into being a better blademaster, a master of void elemental summoning, or becoming the greatest archer EVAR.  

You see in using the the HOW method (XP increases skill/spell levels only), Players are developing a class for their character! By electing to hone known skills/spells and choosing specific new skills/spells, each Hero is become a specialized class or individualized Hero of the Player's design.

Sure you could say, "well Attribute XP increasing and just buying a skill here or there its all the same thing in the end anyway."  Sorry but I don't believe that is strictly true.  This method oversimplifies the character conception and building process over long term play, thus robbing Players of the unique building aspect of creating their own Hero.

Second, not allowing Attribute increases requires Players to rely on each other, and/or retainers! If I cannot be good at everything I do DX related, then it requires different specialists to come together to make it through an adventure.  This again mimics the philosophy of class based game experience without the artificial barrier of your class can/cannot do task X.  Instead the Players get to decide through their own Hero's skill/spell focus what they can or cannot do.

You may disagree, and you may have alternative options, and that's cool. I am all for you house ruling whatever you like to make the game fun for you! I'd only suggest trying it as written for awhile.  You can always go back to a more TFT'd version, but you might also be pleasantly surprised!  In the end, do what makes the game fun for you!

 I am at work on the Faults & Favors rules for Blades & Black Magic. In essence taking a fault gives you a Hero point, and you could use that to buy a Favor (special ability) or add a point to an Attribute.  Currently a 3 Fault max is my play test.  In design I always default to Heroic, not Super Heroic, characters and game playing.

As to Heroes being underpowered vs. average humans.  Starting Heroes have 42 pts of Attributes and have a bonus 4th attribute.  Average folks have 24 points, no EN, and that roughly makes Heroes worth 2 average folks. That's heroic, but not super heroic, and still keeps a group of bandits challenging and not simply a speed bump on the road to Bel Turhain Moor.

I liked the Melee/ Wizard system specifically because characters did not become what they ended up being in D&D: god challenging, dragon riding, magically encrusted fops.  There wasn't a point in Melee/Wizard/TFT gaming when dragons became boring, or Kobolds became like milkweeds to be easily blown out of the way. Enemies of any kind were something to be respected because your character could quickly die.  EN (in HOW) is a way to make Heroes (and special villains) more hardy while still making them subject to the ever present mortal coil.

I called characters Heroes for a reason: they are built to be heroic and to do/dare more than the average NPC in the game. I did not want them to become Super Heroic because the game breaks down, becomes boring as nothing is challenging enough, and IMHO it ceases to be any fun.  In the end I made the game I always wanted to play and it reflects the kind of Heroic stories/gaming (not super-heroic) that I really love! I can only hope it may be something you'll like too.

Thanks again for your interest and for giving HOW a try.  I really am grateful for your support, questions, comments, and appreciate the differing opinions.

First Review

 Robert Saint John has taken time to give his thoughts after a few reads of HOW. I appreciate greatly his time and efforts in writing this, and look forward to the the actual play-test report in Pt 2.  Thanks RSJ! 
Mini-review for Heroes & Other Worlds - Pt 1

I don't have a general gaming blog, but I wanted to share my initial thoughts about Christopher Brandon's new game Heroes & Other Worlds. This is only based on two read-throughs, one quick and one leisurely, and I'll follow up with a lengthier review (probably on RPGGeek and RPGnet) after I get some play time in on it this weekend.

Short version: a worthy successor to The Fantasy Trip, but introduces some smart and unique twists that make it much more than a clone. Much more fleshed out than Legends of the Ancient World and Dragons of Underearth, and somehow captures the spirit of the Moldvay Basic Set. At 120 digest-sized pages, a surprisingly complete game that is well-organized, slickly presented and will appeal to fantasy gamers old and new.

Details: Although I referred to it in yesterday's post as a retro-clone of my personal favorite FRPG, Metagaming's The Fantasy Trip (1980), Heroes & Other Worlds (HOW) is more like the "missing link" between TFT and GURPS that never existed. It's completely compatible with TFT and its weird offspring Dragons of Underearth, and Dark City Games' more recent Legends of the Ancient World (and, as a result, compatible with all those programmed modules from both Metagaming and DCG). Heroes are either Adventurers or Wizards (with a flexible blurry line between them), and character generation is a breeze with a point-buy system to build the attributes of Strength, Dexterity and IQ. Based off the attributes, players choose spells and skills. XP is gained during adventuring to be spent later. Combat and task resolution is basically 3D6, roll-under attribute.

Where HOW diverges from its predecessors is the introduction of a fourth attribute representing health/fatigue, Endurance. Similar approaches have been adopted by TFT players over the years as a house rule (for various reasons), and Steve Jackson did something similar with Health for GURPS. Only Heroes have Endurance, monsters and NPCs do not. Endurance basically stacks on top of Strength and is depleted through damage or spell-casting. When Endurance is gone, damage starts hitting Strength, but Endurance points are recovered much more quickly than Strength.

Another notable divergence in HOW is that Heroes do not improve attributes over time. XP is applied to improving Skills and Spells, much like in Traveller. Choose those initial attributes wisely! And realize that as the adventures and monsters become more challenging, NPC hirelings (well-detailed in HOW) are going to be essential.

Combat, weapons and armor are much like they were in the other games, but not necessarily so dependent on the use of counters/miniatures and a map.

That's the first half of the book, basically a Players Guide, including 3 pages of Skills, 15 pages of Spells (IQ8-IQ18), and plenty of examples throughout. The rest of the book is Referee Resources, with 20 pages of Terrors (monsters), Treasures and Magic items, a solitaire adventure (Dark City's "Orcs of the High Mountains"), guidelines for building and stocking dungeons (with optional random tables), a 7 page sample refereed dungeon, tables of weapons and equipment, and very compact character sheets (like TFT, a 3x5 index card will do just fine). The entire book (POD from Lulu) is digest-sized, very nicely laid out, and illustrated profusely with art that ranges from very good to excellent. Fans of the original TFT are in for quite a treat when they see some of these illustrations, and I'll leave it at that.

Verdict: $15 PDF, $20 paperback. Pricier but comparable in almost every way to the Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox Rules. A great introduction to adventure gaming, but especially appealing to players like me who thought TFT was a more "logical" approach to fantasy gaming than OD&D, and never quite got over the fact that TFT met a premature demise.

More info: 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thank you Q+A

First and most importantly I would like to continue to express my thanks for your support and interest in Heroes & Other Worlds. Thank you also for understanding and deciding to purchase an ebook version even if you bought the paper one too.  I am glad you asked and understood my answer, I look forward to producing more content worth not only your gaming time, but worth your hard earned money. I know how tough it is to find stray dollars to fund a hobby, and I appreciate your support greatly.

I am also glad to see lots of questions, thanks RSJ! I will have a Designers Notes article in the #0 issue of The Cauldron. At the same time I don't want you to think I am just going to leave you hanging and waiting.  As long as your happy to re-read parts of this in The Cauldron, I am happy to do a bit of elaboration now.

Endurance is what sets the Heroes (and arch enemies) apart from the normal terrors or opponents. Its their ability to absorb (or through spell casting cause) extra damage without resorting to a Hit Points stat or other odd calculations. Fatigue in some systems mirrors this for Wizards, but if you are going to go that route, why not just make it an attribute that any Hero can benefit from!

Remember unlike d20 games, there are no levels and no increases in HP (or attributes as in TFT) you build it...and that's it for the life of your Hero. Yet as EN recharges quickly it aids Heroes in giving them additional spell casting power as well as letting the Heroes continue to adventure after a set back in battle.

Now how to equate (or balance) Heroes and Terrors in battle if the Terrors have no EN? Well if you are shooting to balance encounters,  just compare ST value total of Heroes vs. the ST value total of the Terrors. The total for the terrors should be equal to or higher than the Heroes. I usually add 1 or two extra terrors. Now that's just a rule of thumb and it allows the Heroes to cut through larger numbers of enemies across a longer adventure.
And some news...

Issue #0 of The Cauldron will come out in December, I am hoping to include some unique spells from a contributor, a refereed adventure, and a sample solo programmed adventure playable with an included NPC. It will give the curious a taste for the system if you want to try it before you buy. Second it will be provide a good taste for what's to come overall as future issues will be for sale.

A dialog has started about a potential well known setting made for HOW.  Hopefully the stars will align and some good news can be shared soon.

Lastly, if you are looking to kick off an adventure, I highly recommend checking out the adventures at Dark City Games.  Each include battle map, counters, and is programmed so you can play it solo or in a group!

Looking forward to seeing a review!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ebook now available!

For those interested the Ebook version of Heroes & Other Worlds is now available on Lulu.com!


Monday, November 26, 2012

More Magic?

HOW has a solid group of spells included in the basic rules book.

As HOW spell casting is based on IQ not Levels, there are spells for every IQ level included from IQ8 to IQ18.

Yet as every Referee and Player knows, more spells are always wanted!  To that end I am compiling a rather extensive new, and separate, spell book.

Two questions for you:

1) Should it's creation supersede a #0 issue of Cauldron?

2) Should it include all the spells from the HOW rules book as well as all the new spells?

Let me know, and I hope you get your printed copies of the rules soon, I know I am anxious to get mine!

Image from John Howe portfolio

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two classes? FTW?

...and the question I was awaiting has finally arisen.  Let's discuss the notion of classes and HOW.  As Heroes are constructed by players the way they like, every possible traditional class: Bard, Assassin, Thief, Barbarian, etc. is possible, but you can make it the way you want it!  Want a barbarian spell caster? cool.  Sword wielding wizard? Make it happen! No wonky multi-classing restrictions, nor strange obtuse XP chart rules.  Just simple, sensible, gaming.

Let's define Heroes. Every character is classified broadly as a Hero. The next subclass is to divide Hero into two broad specializations Spells (Wizards)  vs Skills (Adventurers). What type of Wizard or Adventurer you choose to be is up to you to create! Any Hero can use skills or cast spells. Wizards learn spells more easily than skills, and Adventurers learn skills easier than spells. That's really the prime difference.

Some Referees like to have lots of classes in the party and a flexible ( broadly defined 2 class) system like this may cause some concern. What I have found is players still gravitate towards and create characters reflective of traditional classes so every role is filled.  Even better, they have more flexibility to make it a thief or fighter they personally like rather than being pigeon holed or boxed in by class restrictions.

I had thought that adding in "sample classes" might be good, but decided to leave that sort of guideline for inclusion in either an issue of The Cauldron or Blades & Black Magic rules book.

What about feats and other specializations like that? Faults & Favors will provide a system for character advantages and disadvantages.  They will be included in Blades & Black Magic.

This in no way suggests HOW is somehow incomplete.  Instead, much like any good basic rules book, all the tools you need are there already!  Everything else is going to be neat additions/options to expand game play or options.

One project I have not mentioned before, but may get bumped up, is a book of spells with specialized sample wizards like healer, necromancer, elementalist etc. and attendant suggested spell lists.

Thanks very much again for your support and for giving HOW a try.  It's the game I always wished I had found and I am hoping you will like it as much as I do. Last chance to get it at a discount on Lulu.com.

Promo code DELIRITAS gets you 30% off!  NOVBOOKS12 gets you 20% off once the 30% off promo code ends!

Image by Andrew Chen, from his site.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I see

Use code DELIRITAS at Lulu this weekend to get 30% of HOW this weekeend!

While I am still officially on holiday taking a rest from the game and the regular 7 to 5 grind for Thanksgiving, I see some copies of the rules have begun to be delivered!
I Can't wait to get mine too!

The next task for me will be the zero issue of The Cauldron magazine. This will be a free PDF download and will contain 2 adventures, a few other miscellaneous articles as well as a call for you to submit adventures or articles for the official issue #1.

I hope as you get your copy you enjoy it and please check out some links to get programmed adventures from Dark City Games, or check out the TFT converted Tekumel articles and ideas over at Eye of Joyful Sitting Amongst friends.  You can easily use this phenomenal reworking of an original D&D setting into your new HOW game!

Thanks again for your support and if you have thoughts, comments, a review, or creations let me know! If you plan on producing homebrew stuff to support HOW let me know and I'd love to add your blog link to the Other Worlds link portal!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Quest complete!

It is done, commence quaffing of beer to toast the release of Heroes & Other Worlds.

 Thanks very much to those who have supported this effort over the year with their feedback, enthusiasm, and comments.  I am especially indebted to my lovely wife, to Mr. Beau Chambers for his eagle eyed editing and efforts to make the game great.  (Beau don't order one because I have a very unique thank you kit I am putting together for you!)

I'd also very much like to thank the fine folks at Dark City Games. They allowed one of their programmed adventures to be used in HOW and as the games are compatible, I hope you check out an adventure or two from them!  They are great!

If you are interested in purchasing your own copy of Heroes & Other Worlds, follow the link below to purchase:


You can use the coupon code NOVBOOKS12 to get a 20% discount through the end of the month! 

Heroes & Other Worlds is inspired by Melee/Wizard/ TFT system as well as by the Moldvay edition D&D Basic Rules book. So what does that mean exactly in terms of the game?

1) Only d6 are used
2) There are two broad scope character classes: Adventurers & Wizards
3) Each Hero has 4 attributes and tests are made by rolling 3d6 versus your attribute. Roll equal to or lower and you succeed, roll over and you fail. No AC or charts.
4) You build your character, both attributes and selection of skills/spells.
5) Combat can be played tactically using a map (squares or hexes), but it is not necessary.
6) Armor hinders the Dexterity of the wearer and subtracts from damage done to the wearer.
7) The basic tropes of dungeon creation, exploration, creature catalog, magic spells and treasure tables are all included.
8) TWO adventures are included, a programmed adventure courtesy of Dark City Games and a simple starter Refereed adventure.

If I had to compare it to something, I would not say TFT. Instead an idealized Dragons of Underearth by way of Moldvay D&D.

What HOW endeavors to be is a sensible and simple game system.  Where TFT and later GURPS took a detailed/simulation system path, HOW seeks to retain the original simple resolution but adding a Moldvian sense to game play.

So the HOW Rules book comes out and then what?

Well first, I am happy to say HOW has the support of Dark City Games. The systems are compatible and they are allowing inclusion of one of their short programmed adventure in the rules book.  More importantly for the HOW player, this also means a tremendous amount of programmed adventures are immediately available to support playing the game at launch.

This will act as a sort of  Expert Rules book for HOW. It will include a few additional character options such as faults and favors.  It will include more spells, more treasures, more creatures and wilderness/ hexplore rules and charts. A simple sample Hexplore will also be included.

This will be a (ideally) quarterly 'zine to support HOW.  I will take player submissions as well as creating original content.  Dark City Games has already discussed including additional sample programmed adventures, and any optional rules for HOW going forward will be done via The Cauldron.

This will be a programmed adventure I write inspired by Death Test adventures.

If you purchase the game and take time to review it just let me know!  I very much hope you will enjoy the game and I look forward to seeing where and how far this little journey takes us.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Up All Night

Okay my final edit is DONE...but the love of my life will double check my bleary eyed edits with yet another pass through.

I know keep saying ALMOST THERE...but I truly mean it every time I say it, I am almost done.

To celebrate (besides going to bed finally) the little skull logo is one you can use on your blog if you so choose to show your support/playing of this little game .  I am also going to have a couple t-shirts made up with the logo! If someone else besides me & my wife want to one, let me know and I can put them up on zazzle or something for purchase.

Now to print a copy for my wife to edit/review with her coffee.

Driver 8 taking a break!

UPDATE: Wife has gone through it again...which means I get to start fixing again after dinner.  Goal is still releasing it into the wild on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


After a 15 hour day I come home to find a special delivery! Super excited? HELL YES!! Still some dumb screw ups to fix? crap, yes.  

Worse? There are some minor bits I want to add.  Nope, nothing to derail it from release in the next week, but I can't leave something half done.  In essence there are some "special bits" I added to a few creatures and I think there are some additional creatures who could use the same extra line or two.  Again nothing major, but its the kind of thing that I think adds just a little something.

Everything else is good to go, @ 124 pgs its quite a bit larger than I had planned but I think its a solid  digest sized core rules book.  Some additional tweaks/edits and its ready to venture forth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hard Charging

I got word that the print test is due to me by Thursday evening this week.

That means a day or two for a final edit...then up for sale it goes!

I will offer the Heroes & Other Worlds rules book @ $20 through the end of 2012 as an introductory price.  I will post any valid Lulu coupons as well to help make purchasing as easy as possbile.

In 2013 it goes up to $25, so there is every reason and opportunity to be a trail blazer! I appreciate the the people willing to take a chance and make a purchase without having the book in hand, so I want to do what I can to make early adoption a possibility.

I will offer an Ebook version as well, but there will be no PDF version. Looking forward to making this available soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


editing complete
print test books are on order

Monday, November 5, 2012

Not quite ready to sail

My wife is really going through the final edit with a sharp eye...ugh.  Most issues are extra spaces here and there and a need for some punctuation fixes.  I refuse to start editing until she is done, and she's been through it 2x and is doing a 3rd pass before handing it back.  So Tuesday evening I will start re-editing again before a print test.  Most likely that means the weekend before I get a print test ordered  and reviewing the print test for one last edit before putting it up for sale means...most likely around the end of November.  I'll know more in the coming days but that's the latest.

 I am also putting up a a poll.  Does there really need to be a player's book separate from the full rules? I have no problem making it, (it's just the player portion of the rules taken out of the core rules book) just not sure anyone would want or need it?  So here is a chance to practice your voting skills, let me know!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fresh Eyes

Layout is complete for Heroes & Other Worlds, and I printed a hard copy for my wife to do a find edit.  Her Red Pen is more active than I would have hoped, but that's why its good to have a set of fresh on it.

HOW has turned into a 120 page digest sized game book. MUCH larger than I anticipated, but it is not filled with the wordy prose of a wanna be fantasy author. After my wife finishes her edit, I dive back in to make corrections and then the print test.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stay on Target...

Thanks to Pastor Beau polishing up the rules through editing, my goal is to finish the final pass of editing and then lay out for HOW this weekend.

Assuming that gets done, I'd order a print test booklet by Tuesday (11/4) and do a final review before putting it up for sale on Lulu, Most likely that would be sometime the week of 11/12.

There will be 2 options: Full Rules (Player & Referee sections) and just the Player's portion.  I decided most Referees will want both in one book anyway so there is no reason to split the referee portion out separately. If I am wrong, let me know.

I have also considered putting the Players rules or maybe the whole game, into a Pocket book format (standard shelf Paper book ) but it would end up begin just as expensive as the digest so I am not sure that really needs to happen.

Holy crap, I can't believe this is almost done!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Like a thief in the night

Pastor Beau emailed me his edits to the referee section last night!  I will now go through his edits and I need to add back some charts that were lost in translation...so that will be my weekend chore.  Glutton for punishment that Pastor Beau is, he has kindly offered to re-review  the (nearly) final edit of the players section.  So it is all coming right along!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Character Creation

One of the hallmarks of the melee/wizard system is the character creation.  Unlike most games of the time using random creation, M/W used point based character creation.  Character construction included selection of everything from attributes, to skills and spells.  For the new player, this can be an overwhelming start to fun.

Think of Monopoly. If you had to create special information for the dog, the iron, the car, or the boot prior to playing--well you might not ever begin. 

One of the good things about classic D&D is the simplicity of starting a new player: do you want to be a fighter? A thief? an Elf? a Dwarf?  Okay you pick Dwarf, now roll 3d6 for each attribute, now roll for HP, here is some gear and away you go. There is a minimal setup or investment for the new player to start.

Don't worry HOW retains the classic point buy system, yet I feel an opportunity remains for random creation.

My question is whether or not this optional system should, or should not, be included as part of the main HOW rules.  As Blades & Black Magic will contain additional optional  rules, perhaps it is best left out of the core rules and reserved for this book?

On the update front, for the players portion I added a combat example, character creation example, and some brief additional notes on fire and poison.  The referee portion at the time of this writing is still being edited, but again I do believe it will finish soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nothing Fancy

For the people following this blog for awhile, thanks and pardon that this description will be old hat.  To the cats just clicking, thanks and here is a quick synopsis of Heroes & Other Worlds:

The HOW system is inspired by Melee/ Wizard games from Metagaming. The HOW rules book presentation is inspired by the Moldvay D&D Basic Rules book.

In essence I want the Metagaming inspired mechanics linked with the role playing inspired goodness of the Moldvay book. There is no setting included in the basic rules, the other worlds are what you will make of it.

A second book Blades & Black Magic will include more character options, different types of magic, more spells, more creatures, and a S&S style setting. Not really EXPERT RULES, but a collection of additional material that can add more crunch and options for players who want/need that kind of extra detail.

Cauldron will be the zine I use to continue to add new optional ideas, and will be the vehicle to have YOU submit your own adventures, spells, creatures, equipment, other worlds etc.

Right from the start there are a large number of adventures compatible with HOW. Where? DARK CITY GAMES. They produce programmed adventures just like the classics from Metagaming.  As HOW uses the same core system, you have a lot of great adventures right from the start!

In addition I will be creating an adventure ode to the original Death Test modules. It will be a programmed adventure and it will be deadly.

Okay so the big question--WHEN?

editing on the referee section is still on going and I believe it is going to finish this weekend.  Then Layout, print test, review of print test and boom publication: aiming for late November.

No kickstarter, and I am not taking your hard earned money until I have something to give you back.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

just because I could

Tough month

October did not turn out as planned.  Frequent travel for business and a nasty cold which hit both my wife and I left my best laid plans unfinished.

Editing is continuing on the referee portion of the book and once completed, then layout on the full book can begin.

At this point, November is a more likely month of release.  I apologize for the delays, the spirit is willing, but time is not always as accommodating.

Thanks for your support and patience!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy Accident

I am a big believer in the idea that things happen for a reason. To that end, I am happy to announce Pastor Beau has finished editing the player portion of  Heroes & Other Worlds! HUZZAH!

As I spent the morning reviewing the edit a not wholly original idea struck me: Perhaps a new player, referee, or just curious sort would appreciate purchasing just the player portion of the basic rules? This would include the basics of character creations, skills, spells, combat and equipment.  Once lay out is complete I believe it will run about 50 pages in digest single column format. MSRP $14.99

If the Players book is of interest and someone wanted to add just a Referee portion, a second book will be available as well. This contains both the programmed and refereed adventures, NPC and adventure suggestions, traps, terrors and treasures. I am going to hazard a guess that this will run around 50-60 pages as well once lay out is done. MSRP $14.99

Both of these covers feature unique illustrations by artist Richard Luschek!

For those already committed, or for the person who wants it all, a complete edition uniting both books in one volume will be offered. This volume will feature my wife's cover artwork as seen previously. MSRP $24.99

The work continues...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Change of plans

Rather than just put out the adventure for free, I will combine it into a free "zero" issue of Cauldron.

This free issue will remain a free give away and hopefully provide a reason to buy other issues as they come out.

So Enon Tor adventure will be included as well as some other bits and bobs that  can be added into your game play experience with Heroes & Other Worlds.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Enon Tor

Way back in 1984, Imagine magazine published a little adventure called The Beacon at Enon Tor.  It was a great introductory D&D adventure for a beginning referee and beginning players taking about 2 to 3 hours to complete.

In 2006, inspired by the Castles & Crusades RPG white box, J.B. Littlefield converted it to C&C and posted it as a free PDF download adventure.

Well inspired by J.B., I am going to convert it into a Heroes & Other Worlds format adventure and offer it up as a free download once the HOW rules book releases.

No word yet on the edit progress, but I am hopeful to see it this week.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Adventure Gaming

I never really role played or played in games with a group of staunch role players.  Absolutely as a referee I'd make funny voices or odd sorts of accents, but none of the players ever did.

Yes, maybe a player would take on a different attitude when playing the cowardly thief, but we never had an actors workshop sort of experience.  Instead the referee did the "acting" as it were and the players said what they were doing and it was understood that Bill was talking about his thief or Becky was talking about her wizard.

When I talk to others about role playing games instantly there is a negative reaction.  Besides the basement nerd stigma, the pop culture smiting on the IT Crowd, Community and elsewhere, there is also a sense that what I am asking them is to somehow participate in a grade school production of Ivanhoe or Lord of the Rings.  "I do not want to spend the next evening pretending to be a 4 foot bearded fellow with a Scottish accent spouting thee, thou, and other none such , thank you."  Such is the nature, and perception, of pen & paper role playing.  Worse, is the idea that I will make them flit about my yard with capes and foam swords attacking leaf filled trash bags on broom handles called "orcs."

Instead, I have found offering someone to play an adventure game seems to work better.  Having some figures and a map along with some six sided dice at the table also helps quell the initial revulsion.  Second, I line up the "character figures" and allow the vicitm...err player...to pick one.  Once picked I hand them a pre-made character, either a 3x5 card or a book mark character sheet.  That's when reality hits, "wait...am I going to have to talk in funny voices?"

One of the strengths of Melee/Wizard was the ability to just play it as a straight up adventure game.  You have a map, you have counters, and a light character sheet to track your figure.  You could role play if you wished, but initially, most folks just played it as a battle game.  I found people who play it just as a battle game eventually want to add the elements of a back and forth shared conversational experience into the game.

That sort of idea has permeated the writing and development of Heroes & Other Worlds. Sure I know most gamers will call it a role playing game, but I really consider it an adventure game.  The goal of the game is not to pretend to be Twinkle Toes the elven thief, it is to find out what happens when TT adventures into the the haunted burial crypt of Dogu Nos Gerfu.

Whether you want to make funny voices or speak in character are optional adornments that can be added if you wish, but that is not the core of the game.   I do not believe Role Playing is what the game is about...its about Adventure. Heroes and Other Worlds is proudly a game of adventure that you can choose to role play or not.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What's to come

Here is a sneak peak of the HOW cover my wife is putting the finishing touches on, I love it.  Also I got an update, Pastor Beau is still editing the rules, the work continues!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pilgrims Progress

Quick update, Pastor Beau emailed to say he think he might have his editing completed this weekend! Then its back on me to go through the editing and make the changes.  My wife will do a 2nd proof,  then layout, print test...and finally it will be time to RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

October seem like a solid month for a pair of releases: Heroes & Other Worlds, as well as my Sci-Fi game: Rogue Space, Dark Edition. I'll make sure to post a lulu coupon so if you buy one or both game, you will get a discount during launch month!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Test Sheets

Here are some new 4x6 character sheets for Heroes & Other Worlds I made up.  I have a few more ideas so I am sure more will crop us soon.

The HOW rules book continues in the edit phase.  No specific timeline for completion yet, but we will see how thing progress this weekend.

While the HOW rules book will provide a basic rules book, the Blades & Black Magic book will act like an amalgam, expert rules, wilderness encounter, and setting book.  Included will be alternate magic systems, new spells, new creatures, optional rules for character generation and combat, as well as wilderness/sandbox stuff.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Looking for...

Someone to who would like to create a cool stylized character sheet for Heroes and Other Worlds?  The bookmark style will still be offered as a free download, but if someone is inspired to make a stylized (fonts? borders? art?) 4x6 note card sized character sheet I'd love to offer that as well for free download!

This sheet is from Tony DiTerlizz for D&D and is very inspiring.   

And a quick update, the completed rules are now out for editing, huzzah!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Word Wizard

I am happy to say Pastor Beau has agreed to edit the HOW rules book and am hopeful to have it over to him this weekend to start the process! In addition Luigi has complete yet another illustration and Urric has started another one as well.  Stay tuned RPG fans, the cauldron of fun is coming to a boil!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

From the Scriptorium

Things are swiftly coming to an end on the rules writing. All that is left to do is the magical treasures portion of the rules!  Yes all skills, spells, creatures, dungeon creation, character creation, combat and nearly all treasure stuff is done!  Good lord what a task to tackle in my "free time."

Before the addition of the programmed adventure, rules index, equipment or art work it is 54 pages.  With all of those added in including an index, I think it may come to 80 pages or so in the 6x9 format booklet format. Then the editing begins...sigh.

Still it should be a pretty svelte and complete RPG rules book.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Here is the Northern human inhabited portion of Caswyn, the homelands of Heroes & Other Worlds.  Each hex represent 18 miles.  This is roughly 1/4 of the entire map of Caswyn and the only human inhabited portion.  Note Heraum and Ashmyr could alternately be Halfling inhabited shire lands.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What's in it?

I have had a couple emails asking for additional details about the HOW rules book and thought they might be of interest more broadly.

How different is this from Metagaming's stuff?
Overall, I am using the Moldvay Basic rules book as a template for creating the HOW rules book. I think the core engine elements are similar, but HOW is more focused on role playing than on being a  fantasy skirmish board game.  Yes you can still play it that way, but it is not necessary.  If you choose to use minis/maps-you can use either hexes or squares-neither is assumed just "spaces."

What's in the book?
1) character creation
2) skills
3) spells
4) combat
5) weapons/equipment
6) creatures
7) treasure tables
8) basic dungeon creation
9) a programmed introductory adventure: I am very pleased to say the rules will include a programmed introductory adventure from a well known outside source, more on that a bit later...

What size is the book going to be?
6x9 like the OD&D LBB or original Traveller rules books. This size will tie in nicely with both the size of Cauldron Magazine (official HOW materials/info) and Dark City Games programmed adventures.

How may pages?
Not sure yet, but I'd say once the adventure and art are included 72-84 pages.

This year, most likely October.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Experience, Goal-Roll system

Experience is a way to reward a player's character for its efforts and to incentivize certain game play actions. The goal being to increase a character's overall abilities making them better/stronger/faster through surviving a perilous life of adventure.

For HOW, I have already decided treasure of any type is its own reward. I believe the actions and successes a character makes should provide a tangible reward as well as being a reflection of their abilities.

With all of that in mind, I'd like to propose the following simple system for HOW:

For any test roll (attack, defense, spell cast, skill use, etc.) a character makes that succeeds, the numerical difference between your target number and your dice roll is awarded as XP.

Example: Toshiro Redcap attempts to pick the pocket of wealthy merchant. He needs a 10 or less to succeed. Toshiro rolls a 7 succeeding.  10(goal)-7(roll)= 3 XP rewarded.

For each additional die used in a roll for a test (instead of 3 dice you rolled 4 dice or 5 dice) you get +4 XP points added to the success difference. 

That's it, clean and simple.  Now no matter what type of adventure (combat heavy, trading, thieving, etc.) you run, any time a test is successfully made, the character is rewarded.  Also if your are more successful in a test attempt, you automatically get more points!  If you are more skilled, you will start generating more points to reflect that as well. Indeed there will be additional referee optional rewards for game play...but the core XP generating model is that simple formula.

I will have to re-figure the math, but initially, I still believe 100xp x New bonus level works as a method for increasing the ability, or learning, new skills. (+1 bonus=100xp, +2 bonus-200xp, etc.)

Yes I am still NOT letting attributes be increased with XP, only skills.   This gets rid of the Conan the Librarian issues, and places finite limits, of a sort, on each character.  Blame it on my like of characters like Batman, Green Arrow, Captain America and the Falcon if you like.  I prefer the skilled ultimate human hero, over the super human hero.   This should allow unique heroes that need each other to succeed over the high fantasy indestructible type.

Comments or concerns are welcome.